Demographics of Italy
This article is about the demographic features of the population of Italy, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.
At the beginning of 2020, Italy had an estimated population of 60.3 million. Its population density, at 201 inhabitants per square kilometre (520/sq mi), is higher than that of most Western European countries. However, the distribution of the population is widely uneven; the most densely populated areas are the Po Valley (that accounts for almost half of the national population) in northern Italy and the metropolitan areas of Rome and Naples in central and southern Italy, while other vast areas are very sparsely populated, like the plateaus of Basilicata, the Alps and Apennines highlands, and the island of Sardinia.
The population of the country almost doubled during the twentieth century, but the pattern of growth was extremely uneven due to large-scale internal migration from the rural South to the industrial cities of the North, a phenomenon which happened as a consequence of the Italian economic miracle of the 1950–1960s. In addition, after centuries of net emigration, from the 1980s Italy has experienced large-scale immigration for the first time in modern history. According to the Italian government, there were an estimated 5,234,000 foreign nationals resident in Italy on 1 January 2019.
High fertility and birth rates persisted until the 1970s, after which they started to dramatically decline, leading to rapid population aging. At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, one in five Italians was over 65 years old. However, as a result of the massive immigration of the last two decades, Italy has, in recent years, experienced a significant growth in birth rates. The total fertility rate has also climbed from an all-time low of 1.18 children per woman in 1995 to 1.41 in 2008.
Since the 1984 Lateran Treaty agreement, Italy has no official religion. However, it recognizes the role the Catholic Church plays in Italian society. In 2017, 78% of the population identified as Catholic, 15% as non-believers or atheists, 2% as other Christians and 6% adhered to other religions.
Largest cities or towns in Italy
ISTAT estimates for 31 December 2014
70.4% of Italian population is classified as urban, a relatively low figure among developed countries. During the last two decades, Italy underwent a devolution process, that eventually led to the creation of administrative metropolitan areas, in order to give major cities and their metropolitan areas a provincial status (somehow similar to PRC's direct-controlled municipality).
Genetics and ethnic groups
Modern Italy and immigration
Italy used to be a country of mass emigration from the late 19th century until the 1970s. Between 1898 and 1914, the peak years of Italian diaspora, approximately 750,000 Italians emigrated each year. Italian communities once thrived in the former African colonies of Eritrea (nearly 100,000 at the beginning of World War II), Somalia and Libya (150,000 Italians settled in Libya, constituting about 18% of the total Libyan population). All of Libya's Italians were expelled from the North African country in 1970. In addition, after the annexation of Istria in 1945, up to 350,000 ethnic Italians left Titoist Yugoslavia. Today, large numbers of people with full or significant Italian ancestry are found in Brazil (25 million), Argentina (20 million), US (17.8 million), France (5 million), Venezuela (2 million), Uruguay (1.5 million), Canada (1.4 million), and Australia (800,000).
As a result of the profound economic and social changes induced by postwar industrialization, including low birth rates, an aging population and thus a shrinking workforce, during the 1980s Italy became to attract rising flows of foreign immigrants. The present-day figure of about 5 million foreign residents, that make up some 8% of the total population, include 97,000 children born in Italy to foreign nationals (14% of total births in Italy) in 2014, but exclude foreign nationals who have subsequently acquired Italian nationality; this applied to 106,000 people in 2014. The official figures also exclude illegal immigrants, the so-called clandestini, whose numbers are very difficult to determine. In May 2008 The Boston Globe quoted an estimate of 670,000 for this group. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and more recently, the 2004 and 2007 enlargements of the European Union, the main waves of migration came from the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe (especially Romania, Albania, Ukraine and Poland). The second most important area of immigration to Italy has always been the neighbouring North Africa (in particular, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia), with soaring arrivals as a consequence of the Arab Spring. Furthermore, in recent years, growing migration fluxes from the Far East (notably, China and the Philippines) and Latin America (Ecuador, Peru) have been recorded. Currently, there are 1.2 million Romanian-born citizens living and working in Italy. Today the Romanians make up the largest community in the country, followed by Albanians (441,027) and Moroccans (422,980). The fourth largest community in Italy are the Chinese. The majority of Chinese living in Italy came from the city of Wenzhou in the province of Zhejiang. Currently the foreign-born population of Italy was from: Europe (54%), Africa (22%), Asia (16%), the Americas (8%) and Oceania (0.06%). The distribution of immigrants is largely uneven in Italy: 84.9% of immigrants live in the northern and central parts of the country (the most economically developed areas), while only 15.1% live in the southern half of the peninsula.
Within the Italian population, there is enough cultural, linguistic, genetic and historical diversity for them to constitute several distinct groups throughout the peninsula. In this regard, peoples like the Friulians, the Ladins, the Sardinians and South Tyroleans, who also constitute recognized linguistic minorities, or even the Sicilians, are cases in point attesting to such internal diversity.
|North Africa (Maghrebis)||646,624||1.07%|
|China (Han Chinese)||265,820||0.28%|
Immigrants as of 2019:
Life expectancy at birth from 1871 to 2015
|Life expectancy in Italy||29.8||29.7||31.6||31.8||31.3||33.6||34.9||34.3||34.0||32.8|
|Life expectancy in Italy||34.2||34.3||35.2||36.6||36.9||35.1||36.0||37.0||39.1||38.5|
|Life expectancy in Italy||38.5||38.9||39.8||40.0||39.6||40.7||43.3||42.3||43.7||41.7|
|Life expectancy in Italy||43.5||43.0||43.1||44.4||43.9||45.1||45.4||43.1||44.6||46.7|
|Life expectancy in Italy||44.7||48.9||48.4||49.9||42.5||39.6||38.1||25.8||42.3||45.5|
|Life expectancy in Italy||49.2||50.0||51.4||51.5||51.3||50.9||52.5||52.6||52.3||55.2|
|Life expectancy in Italy||54.8||54.7||56.3||56.8||56.2||56.7||55.5||56.1||57.6||57.0|
|Life expectancy in Italy||54.7||52.5||49.4||52.4||54.9||59.0||61.2||63.4||64.1||65.8|
|Period||Life expectancy in
|Period||Life expectancy in|
Source: UN World Population Prospects
Total Fertility Rate from 1850 to 1899
|Total Fertility Rate in Italy||5.47||5.42||5.38||5.33||5.29||5.24||5.19||5.15||5.1||5.06||5.01|
|Total Fertility Rate in Italy||4.96||4.93||4.9||4.9||4.91||4.91||4.92||4.92||4.91||4.9|
|Total Fertility Rate in Italy||4.9||4.89||4.88||4.89||4.9||4.9||4.91||4.92||4.95||4.98|
|Total Fertility Rate in Italy||5||5.03||5.06||5.05||5.04||5.04||5.03||5.02||4.98||4.95|
|Total Fertility Rate in Italy||4.91||4.88||4.84||4.79||4.74||4.69||4.64||4.59||4.56|
Vital statistics since 1900
|Average population||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1,000)||Crude death rate (per 1,000)||Natural change (per 1,000)||Total Fertility Rates[fn 1]|
|2006||58,064,000||552,019||557,892||- 5,873||9.6||9.6||- 0.0||1.37|
Current natural increase
- Number of births in January–June 2019 = 199,690
- Number of births in January–June 2020 = 194,663
- Number of deaths in January–June 2019 = 335,515
- Number of deaths in January–June 2020 = 373,979
- Natural growth in January–June 2019 = -135,825
- Natural growth in January–June 2020 = -179,316
In the year 2018 351,101 babies were born to mothers with Italian citizenship which makes up 79.8% of all new borns in that year while 88,646 babies were born to foreign mothers corresponding to 20.2%.
Demographic statistics according to the World Population Review in 2019.
- One birth every 1 minute
- One death every 50 seconds
- Net loss of one person every 7 minutes
- One net migrant every 7 minutes
- 62,246,674 (July 2018 est.)
- 62,137,802 (July 2017 est.)
- 60,674,003 (Jan 2016 est.)
- Age structure
- 0-14 years: 13.6% (male 4,326,862 /female 4,136,562)
- 15-24 years: 9.61% (male 2,994,651 /female 2,984,172)
- 25-54 years: 41.82% (male 12,845,442 /female 13,183,240)
- 55-64 years: 13.29% (male 4,012,640 /female 4,261,956)
- 65 years and over: 21.69% (male 5,817,819 /female 7,683,330) (2018 est.)
- 0-14 years: 13.65% (male 4,334,457/female 4,146,726)
- 15-24 years: 9.66% (male 3,008,228/female 2,996,854)
- 25-54 years: 42.16% (male 12,933,634/female 13,265,541)
- 55-64 years: 12.99% (male 3,914,061/female 4,159,859)
- 65 years and over: 21.53% (male 5,758,197/female 7,620,245) (2017 est.)
- 0-14 years: 13.5% (men 4,056,156/women 3,814,070)
- 15-64 years: 66.3% (men 19,530,696/women 18,981,084)
- 65 years and over: 20.2% (men 4,903,762/women 6,840,444) (2010 est.)
- Median age
- total: 45.8 years. Country comparison to the world: 5th
- male: 44.7 years
- female: 46.9 years (2018 est.)
- total: 45.5 years (2017 est.)
- men: 44.4 years
- women: 46.5 years
- total: 44.2 years (2015 est.)
- Birth rate
- 8.5 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 216th
- 8.94 births/1,000 population (2013 est.)
- Death rate
- 10.5 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 28th
- 10.01 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.)
- Total fertility rate
- 1.39 children born/woman (Italian citizens)
- 1.91 children born/woman (Foreign citizens)
- 1.39 children born/woman (total citizens) (2014)
- 1.45 children born/woman (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 206th
- Net migration rate
- 3.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 37th
- 3.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
- 4.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2013 est.)
- Population growth rate
- 0.16% (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 183th
- 0.19% (2017 est.)
- 0.03% (2016 est.)
- Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 82.3 years. Country comparison to the world: 15th
- male: 79.6 years
- female: 85.1 years (2017 est.)
- Mother's mean age at first birth
- 30.7 years (2014 est.)
- Infant mortality rate
- total: 3.3 deaths/1,000 live births. Country comparison to the world: 210th
- men: 3.5 deaths/1,000 live births
- women: 3 deaths/1,000 live births (2017 est.)
- urban population: 70.4% of total population (2018)
- rate of urbanization: 0.29% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
- Sex ratio
- under 15 years: 1.05 men(s)/women
- 15-64 years: 0.97 men(s)/women
- 65 years and over: 0.75 men(s)/women
- total population: 0.93 men(s)/women (2013 est.)
- Health expenditures
- 9.5% of total GDP (2010)
- Physicians density
- 4.24 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
- Hospital bed density
- 3.6 beds/1,000 population (2009)
- Adult prevalence rate: 0.3% (2009 est.)
- People living with HIV/AIDS: 140,000 (2009 est.)
- Deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.)
- Obesity – adult prevalence rate
- 19.8% (2008)
Christian 80% (overwhelmingly Roman Catholic with very small groups of Jehovah's Witnesses and Protestants), Muslim (about 800,000 to 1 million), atheist and agnostic 20%
- Education expenditure
- 4.7% of total GDP (2008)
- definition: age 15 and over can read and write
- total population: 99.2%
- male: 99.4%
- female: 99% (2015 est.)
- total population: 98.6% (2003 est.)
- School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
- total: 16 years
- male: 16 years
- female: 17 years (2016)
Unemployment, youth ages 15–24:
- total: 37.8%. Country comparison to the world: 16th
- male: 36.5%
- female: 39.6% (2016 est.)
- noun: Italian(s)
- adjective: Italian
Italy's official language is Italian; Ethnologue has estimated that there are about 55 million speakers of Italian in the country and a further 6.7 million outside of it, primarily in the neighboring countries and in the Italian diaspora worldwide. Italian, adopted by the central state after the unification of Italy, is a language based on the Florentine variety of Tuscan and is somewhat intermediate between the Italo-Dalmatian languages and the Gallo-Romance languages. Its development was also influenced by the Germanic languages of the post-Roman invaders. When Italy unified in 1861, only 3% of the population spoke Italian, even though an estimated 90% of Italians speak Italian as their L1 nowadays.
Italy is in fact one of the most linguistically diverse countries in Europe, as there are not only varieties of Italian specific to each cultural region, but also distinct regional and minority languages. The establishment of the national education system has led to the emergence of the former and a decrease in the use of the latter. The spread of Italian was further expanded in the 1950s and 1960s, because of the economic growth and the rise of mass media and television, with the state broadcaster (RAI) setting a colloquial variety of Italian to which the population would be exposed.
As a way to distance itself from the Italianization policies promoted because of nationalism, Italy recognized twelve languages as the Country's "historical linguistic minorities", which are promoted alongside Italian in their respective territories. French is co-official in the Aosta Valley as the province's prestige variety, under which the more commonly spoken Franco-Provencal dialects have been historically roofed. German has the same status in the province of South Tyrol as, in some parts of that province and in parts of the neighbouring Trentino, does Ladin. Slovene and Friulian are officially recognised in the provinces of Trieste, Gorizia and Udine in Venezia Giulia. In Sardinia, the Sardinian language has been the language traditionally spoken and is often regarded by linguists as constituting its own branch of Romance; in the 1990s, Sardinian has been recognized as "having equal dignity" with Italian, the introduction of which to the island officially started under the rule of the House of Savoy in the 18th century.
In these regions, official documents are either bilingual (trilingual in Ladin communities) in the co-official language(s) by default, or available as such upon request. Traffic signs are also multilingual, except in the Valle d’Aosta where French toponyms are generally used, with the exception of Aosta itself, which has retained its Latin form in Italian as well as English. Attempts to Italianize them, especially during the Fascist period, have been formally abandoned. Education is possible in minority languages where such schools are operating.
UNESCO and other authories recognize a number of other languages which are not legally protected by Italian government: Piedmontese, Venetian, Ligurian, Lombard, Emilian-Romagnolo, Neapolitan and Sicilian.
Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in the country, although the Catholic Church is no longer officially the state religion. In 2006, 87.8% of Italy's population self-identified as Roman Catholic, although only about one-third of these described themselves as active members (36.8%). In 2016, 71.1% of italian citizens self-identified as Roman Catholic,.
Most Italians believe in God, or a form of a spiritual life force. According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005: 74% of Italian citizens responded that 'they believe there is a God', 16% answered that 'they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force' and 6% answered that 'they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force'. There are no data collected through census.
The Italian Catholic Church is part of the global Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of the Pope, curia in Rome, and the Conference of Italian Bishops. In addition to Italy, two other sovereign nations are included in Italian-based dioceses, San Marino and Vatican City. There are 225 dioceses in the Italian Catholic Church, see further in this article and in the article List of the Roman Catholic dioceses in Italy. Even though by law Vatican City is not part of Italy, it is in Rome, and along with Latin, Italian is the most spoken and second language of the Roman Curia.
Italy has a rich Catholic culture, especially as numerous Catholic saints, martyrs and popes were Italian themselves. Roman Catholic art in Italy especially flourished during the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods, with numerous Italian artists, such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, Fra Angelico, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Sandro Botticelli, Tintoretto, Titian, Raphael and Giotto. Roman Catholic architecture in Italy is equally as rich and impressive, with churches, basilicas and cathedrals such as St Peter's Basilica, Florence Cathedral and St Mark's Basilica. Roman Catholicism is the largest religion and denomination in Italy, with around 71.1% of Italians considering themselves Catholic. Italy is also home to the greatest number of cardinals in the world, and is the country with the greatest number of Roman Catholic churches per capita.
In the 20th century, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostalism, non-denominational Evangelicalism, and Mormonism were the fastest-growing Protestant churches. Immigration from Western, Central, and Eastern Africa at the beginning of the 21st century has increased the size of Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal and Evangelical communities in Italy, while immigration from Eastern Europe has produced large Eastern Orthodox communities.
In 2006, Protestants made up 2.1% of Italy's population, and members of Eastern Orthodox churches comprised 1.2% or more than 700,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians including 180,000 Greek Orthodox, 550,000 Pentecostals and Evangelists (0.8%), of whom 400,000 are members of the Assemblies of God, about 250,000 are Jehovah's Witnesses (0.4%), 30,000 Waldensians, 25,000 Seventh-day Adventists, 22,000 Mormons, 15,000 Baptists (plus some 5,000 Free Baptists), 7,000 Lutherans, 4,000 Methodists (affiliated with the Waldensian Church).
The longest-established religious faith in Italy is Judaism, Jews having been present in Ancient Rome before the birth of Christ. Italy has seen many influential Italian-Jews, such as Luigi Luzzatti, who took office in 1910, Ernesto Nathan served as mayor of Rome from 1907 to 1913 and Shabbethai Donnolo (died 982). During the Holocaust, Italy took in many Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. However, with the creation of the Nazi-backed puppet Italian Social Republic, about 15% of 48,000 Italian Jews were killed. This, together with the emigration that preceded and followed the Second World War, has left only a small community of around 45,000 Jews in Italy today.
Due to immigration from around the world, there has been an increase in non-Christian religions. As of 2009, there were 1.0 million Muslims in Italy forming 1.6 percent of population; independent estimates put the Islamic population in Italy anywhere from 0.8 million to 1.5 million. Only 50,000 Italian Muslims hold Italian citizenship.
There are more than 200,000 followers of faith originating in the Indian subcontinent, including some 70,000 Sikhs with 22 gurdwaras across the country, 70,000 Hindus, and 50,000 Buddhists. There are an estimated some 4,900 Bahá'ís in Italy in 2005.
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